THE REPORT BY RICHARD J. EVANS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
I was shocked and initially greatly dispirited to read Professor Evans's extremely long report, mainly because the intensity of his attack upon my MA thesis and its examiners was so unfair, strident and aggressive in tone. Indeed, even though the Working Party pointed out to me in our recent meeting that I may have been a bit heavy-handed in my use of adjectives I would respectfully suggest that my thesis contains proportionately no more than Professor Evans's report does. Actually, I humbly submit that his description of my thesis as "thoroughly tendentious, biased and dishonest" is -- if I apply to his report the criteria he applied to my thesis -- no less applicable to his report.
I emphatically reject any suggestion that Professor Evans's report is a fair and appropriate response to the work of a masters student in his fourth year of tertiary study (and that was all I was!). It resembles in depth, scope and energy of attack the report he submitted to the High Court in London as a defence witness against the controversial Mr David Irving. Mr Irving has thirty major books to his name, and has been active in historical research and professional writing for nearly forty years, so this type of response might well be appropriate when dealing with his scholarship. But, as I note above, when I wrote my thesis in 1991, and a bit in 1992, I was but a young history student who had completed no more than three years of university study and who possessed very little professional and scholarly experience and sophistication.
If my MA thesis is to be critiqued, it simply must be done so with this in mind.
I do not accept for a minute that Professor Evans had this, or kept this, in mind when he wrote his scathing report. It even seems apparent that he has failed to establish any fair criteria for assessing my work. Even though he says (pp. 2-3) that he intended to establish whether the thesis reaches "generally accepted academic standards for dissertations at this level", he then advances criteria that do not match, or even fairly correspond, to the criteria that the University of Canterbury imposed upon me and measured my work against. According to page 308 of the 1993 Calendar of the University of Canterbury, an MA thesis is equivalent to 50 percent of the candidate's overall result and "shall be judged primarily not on the contribution the thesis makes to knowledge but on the evidence it affords of the candidate's understanding of the principles of historical research and ability to apply them." Yet Professor Evan alleges (p. 3) that "universities do demand that an MA thesis contains original research ... [and] ... has to advance the state of knowledge either by presenting new findings or revising old ones."
Clearly he has a PhD dissertation in mind (despite his line that "obviously an MA thesis is not a doctorate") because he adds that it is "reasonable to demand" that a candidate should be aware of "all the major published scholarly work published on his subject by that point". I do not think this is reasonable and at no point was this expectation expressed to me during the time I worked on my masterate (it was during my doctoral work, and by the very same supervisor). I could add that, even though we have our own MA history thesis students here at Massey University write thorough literature reviews in an attempt to increase their familiarity with the literature, we do not anticipate the level of mastery that Professor Evans indicates is normal and "expected".
As it happens, my bibliography was extremely large for an MA thesis, as a recent comparison with other Canterbury history MA theses revealed. I tried my best to obtain the widest range of relevant sources that I could within the very tight time constraints of masterate work. I even spent a lot of my own money -- which, as a young married student with children I really couldn't afford to do -- on obtaining books and articles from all over the world and in several languages via the inter-university loan system, and I contacted numerous Jewish and non-Jewish agencies and institutions for help in attaining further sources. To a couple of persons from whom I needed material I even had to promise copies of my finished thesis, an act that has misleadingly been described in recent months as my "circulation of the thesis to revisionists and antisemites".
It is therefore extremely unfair of Professor Evans to suggest that I "should" have consulted pretty much everything on the Holocaust, including some very obscure sources such as: (p. 14) an untranslated 1967 French work by Paul Rassinier (my French was then poor, and, as my acknowledgements page reveals, I even used a translator for the works I was able to get copies of; (p. 15) all the sources listed in the footnotes of Gill Seidel's rather unimportant book; (p. 24) transcripts from the 1947 trial in Poland (therefore in Polish!) of Johann Kremer; (p. 34) transcripts from an obscure 1986 trial in the District Court for the District Columbia; (p. 35) transcripts from a 1988 US Court of Appeals hearing (Professor Evan's source for which is Professor Lipstadt's book, which he had earlier said I probably couldn't have seen before I wrote my thesis); and so forth.
I am struck by how many times, using this "expected" mastery of the sources as his criterion, Professor Evans then failed to apply even that standard fairly and consistently to my thesis. For example, he writes that he won't judge my work on any other basis than what I should have known in 1993 (even though I wrote the thesis two years earlier and only submitted it, after minor changes, in 1993!), and that he won't take into consideration anything published subsequently. He even recognises (p. 5) that Professor Deborah Lipstadt's Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory doubtless "came out too late to be taken into consideration by Dr Hayward for his dissertation". But, several times throughout his report he uses as his own evidence, and sometimes claims or implies that I should have used it myself (see pages 35, 42, 43 for just a few examples), material from Professor Lipstadt's book. On one or two occasions (cf. pp. 52, 57) he even refers to evidence or information gleaned at the 2000 Irving/Lipstadt trial. This is hardly fair.
I also reject entirely the criteria that Professor Evans used (p. 3-4) to determine whether I am, or was, a Holocaust denier (an allegation I naturally consider outrageous!). He proposed to "rely on the criteria put forward by the defence in the Irving/Lipstadt trial and accepted by the High Court". This criteria was not -- I repeat, NOT -- "accepted by the High Court". I consider this a very misleading statement, one that, had I made it, would doubtless have seen me labelled "dishonest" by my opponents. The defence team opposing Mr David Irving used that criteria to build its case. That's all. The judge did not use it as his criteria, or express any particular opinions in support of its applicability to his arrival at a judgement.
I might add that Professor Deborah Lipstadt, for whom Professor Evans testified in London against David Irving, has a much simpler definition of "Holocaust denial". This, she says on page 1 of her celebrated book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (New York: Plume, 1994 ed.), is "antisemitic ideology". That is, Holocaust denial is a form of anti-Semitism. "When I turned to the topic of Holocaust denial," she writes on page 3, "I knew I was dealing with extremist antisemites who have increasingly managed, under the guise of scholarship, to camouflage their hateful ideology."
According to this definition, the correctness of which Professor Evans himself defended in the Irving/Lipstadt trial, I am certainly not a Holocaust denier. I am, and have always been, philo-Semitic, pro-Zionist and pro-Israel, as I outlined in my initial submission to the working party. I also quote page 69 of Professor Evans's report: "Nor does there appear to be any racist or antisemitic purpose behind Hayward's writing, such as the court documented in Irving's case." So then, if I am not motivated by anti-Semitism -- and I'm clearly not -- I am not a Holocaust denier.
I should note, in any event, that even if the criteria mentioned by Professor Evans on page 4 were to be used to critique my old MA thesis -- and it's clear that the Working Party has not been tasked to defend or refute the arguments or interpretations contained within the thesis -- my thesis is not a work of Holocaust denial. The thesis certainly did not deny "that the Nazis exterminated more than a few hundred thousand Jews during the Second World War". I wrote (p. 140) that the Einsatzgruppen alone murdered a minimum of 300,000 and possibly up to 900,000. I also wrote (p. 336) that I didn't know how many Jews perished, but suggested that the total was within the range stretching from one million to six million. The mid-point in that range is 3,500,000. Even if I am unfairly held to the very bottom figure of "more than one million", and not to the mid-range figure of 3,500,000 or so I had in mind at that time, my thesis is not a work of Holocaust denial. I cannot remember ever reading of any Holocaust revisionists who would agree that Nazis killed anywhere one million Jews. Apparently Professor Evans hasn't either (see p. 30 of his report).
My thesis contains no denial "that this extermination was systematic". On the contrary, on page 140 I mentioned that "scores of mass killings" were perpetrated by the Einsatzgruppen and that eyewitnesses reports -- note: I accepted their testimonies!! -- show that these "mass murders" tell of (p. 141) "routine brutality and terrifying journeys in crowded trucks to the killing sites. They speak of rows of naked humans standing on the edges of pits waiting to receive the bullets that will send them down onto still-warm bodies below". These statements alone should make clear that, whatever mistakes my thesis may contain, it contains no anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial and that it does speak of routine mass murders. That's systematic, is it not?
My thesis contains no denial that any part of the murder of Jews "was carried out by the use of gas chambers in extermination camps", even though it does conclude (p. 331) that "apparently" these gas chambers fell into the category of propaganda. But the thesis certainly does not rule out the existence of homicidal gas chambers. On the contrary, I insisted (p. 191) that Revisionist arguments about the difficulty of killing people in stationary chambers and mobile gas vans, using diesel as the poison, "should not be seen as ‘proof’ that such gassings did not occur." They should be "rigorously analysed and tested by other suitably qualified engineers and toxicologists" before any verdict could be reached. Similarly, and more importantly, my thesis insisted (p. 260) that even the Leuchter Report, hailed by revisionists as their most irrefutable proof that no homicidal gassings occurred in Auschwitz, contained numerous errors and should not be considered authoritative. Indeed, I stated that an international team of eminent scientists and engineers should undertake a thorough forensic examination of the relevant extant buildings in Auschwitz "for the purpose of establishing once and for all whether they were or were not used (or even could have been used) to murder humans en masse." Thus, it is clear that, while my thesis questioned the evidence for homicidal gassings, and concluded that the evidence was "apparently" lacking, it certainly never denied them. In not one single line does it say that gassings didn't happen!
Furthermore, my thesis contains no denial "that the evidence commonly presented for all these central aspects of the Holocaust is genuine." While criticising some evidence for internal inconsistencies or difficulties in reconciling it with other sources, in many places I argued forcefully that evidence for monstrous crimes is "plentiful, authentic and reliable" (p. 140). I also argued, as noted above, that claims of deliberate widespread falsification of evidence by Jews and others are "preposterous" and anti-Semitic. My thesis, quite simply, contains strong refutations of revisionist claims that Jews invented evidence of Holocaust atrocities.
So then, even according to Professor Evans's criteria, which is irrelevant and inapplicable to my situation and the Working Party's terms of reference -- and misleadingly presented anyway -- my thesis is not a work of Holocaust denial. It examined, it questioned, it challenged, but it did not deny!
With the benefit of hindsight and almost five years of supervising postgraduate work myself, I actually accept Professor Evans's opinions on pages 4 and 6 that my thesis was too long and overly ambitious, but I must add that I was but a student working under supervision and that the responsibility for permitting my thesis to get a bit out of hand, if indeed it did, is ultimately not mine. I was never told during the research, reflection and writing stages that I was working on something excessively difficult, unmanageable or too "big". If I had received such advice I would, as a student who naturally wanted to do well, certainly have responded by recasting my topic and its central questions, and would have produced a smaller work. Having said this, I don't wish to place blame on Dr Vincent Orange, who has already been sharply and, in my opinion, unkindly criticised by Professor Evans. Evans claimed, for example, that "more serious still, if anything, is the scandalously incompetent level of supervision that must have been received by the candidate." If I had received decent supervision, he added, "this thesis in its present form and with its present contents would never have seen the light of day."
I cannot say whether Dr Orange's supervision was "scandalously incompetent". That's for the Working Party to decide. But I must add that, if it were, and if my own research skills were as "abysmal" as Professor Evans also stated, I am thoroughly puzzled how I could then go straight on to write a very successful PhD under the same supervisor. My dissertation was examined by the world's leading experts in the field -- one from Germany and one from the United states -- and considered a superior piece of work by both. It has since been published by a reputable American academic press as part of a premier series, "Modern War Studies". It has sold well, and is now about to have its third reprint. And most importantly, it has received extremely favourable comments from leading authorities in international peer reviewed journals. That's not bad for an "abysmal" student and a "scandalously incompetent" supervisor!
I am pleased, however, that Professor Evans said (p. 5) that my thesis topic "is a perfectly legitimate one". I have been criticised in recent months for deciding to work on the topic -- and as I told the Working Party last time, I sure do now wish I had chosen something else -- so I am comforted by Professor Evans's statement that "the fact that two major books on the topic were both published contemporaneously with Dr Hayward's MA thesis shows that not only was his choice of subject a reasonable one, but that it was made at a time when others had taken note of the phenomenon and decided to devote scholarly attention to it."
I am also actually quite pleased that Professor Evans has found few actual errors of fact in my work, as opposed to errors -- real or claimed -- in my interpretations and presentation of them (some of which he clearly detested). For example, I accept his statement on page 30 that I misdated an entry from Hitler's Table Talk (errors like this invariably creep in) and I accept his point (same section) that I got confused between the German and English editions of that source, and consequently mis-numbered a few pages. I tried my best throughout my thesis to get these things 100 percent right, and regret that I wasn't able to achieve total accuracy. But I did try, and did double-check sources, page numbers, etc.
Having said this, errors creep into the writing of the best of us. Even professional scholars -- and not just young, inexperienced postgrads like I was then -- make mistakes. This doesn't prove dishonesty. Even Professor Evans apparently made some goofs when reading my thesis. He claims on page 42 of his report that I try to whitewash the behaviour of a Mr Ditlieb Felderer, whom I had described as "an eccentric Swedish Holocaust Revisionist". He adds that I do "not mention" that Mr Felderer was a very strange and strident man who did nasty things like sending Jewish leaders packets containing fat or hair and asking whether they could prove they were from Jews killed in the Holocaust. But didn't Professor Evans read my description of Felderer and his actions on pages 20 and 21 (note 30) of my thesis? I clearly pointed out that Felderer sometime did abnormal and bizarre things and that these included sending hair samples, etc, to Jews. I also criticised these actions as "ill-considered and insensitive" and concluded that they "have naturally distressed Jewish people and are therefore to be condemned." So where's the whitewash? Obviously Professor Evans simply failed to read or remember this footnote paragraph.
Professor Evans accuses me in several places of making statements but not providing adequate supporting evidence. With great respect to the Professor, he is himself guilty of this charge. On page 29 of his report he stated: "What is important to note is that Nazi policy in general, as well as specifically at Auschwitz, envisaged a ‘selection' of a minority of Jews for forced labour (albeit under conditions deliberately designed to lead to their death within a relatively short space of time) and the killing of the rest." Yet he provides no source, primary or secondary, to bear out this claim. It is merely presented as a truism. Even I provided evidence (strangely, cited by Professor Evans on the same page) to support such a claim in my thesis. On page 32 of his report Professor Evans asserts that "Himmler, indeed, and Bormann too, are on record at various points as insisting that direct language was not to be used by anyone when referring in writing or by word of mouth to the killing operations in the east." Again, he provides no source, primary or secondary, to bear out this claim. I could present numerous other cases where no evidence appears alongside claims made against me.
One of Professor Evans's most emphatic claims (p. 10) is that "the most serious error made by Hayward, however, is to treat Holocaust deniers and serious historians as two equally legitimate opposing camps of scholars." He alleges (p. 12) that my thesis was "systematically biased in favour of the deniers, and, as we shall see, ends up by presenting them as the disinterested scholars, and the real historians who work on the Holocaust as politically-motivated fabricators of the historical record."
This is absurd, and I resent it deeply. I did not set out to whitewash revisionists or accuse orthodox scholars of being "politically-motivated fabricators of the historical record." Indeed, in no place in my thesis did I present revisionists as "disinterested scholars" and in many places I accused them of bias and prejudice. And in no place did I accuse mainstream Holocaust scholars of deliberately fabricating the historical record, whereas in many places I described revisionist claims of falsification by them as unproven and irresponsible.
I actually argued that the entire debate (a "bitter war being fought between the two sides", p. 22) was emotion-laden and that few writers on either side were what Professor Evans calls "disinterested scholars". I tried hard not to ally myself with one group or another, and certainly tried hard to be fair to both sides. This approach, of course, has earned me the ire of persons who say that there are not two sides.
I accept now that I should have emphasised more strongly than I did the anti-Semitic motives of many revisionists, and I have stated this in the addendum I recently attached to my old thesis in an attempt to diffuse tensions and clarify my current position. But I also question Professor Evans's concept of "disinterest". I am not convinced that any scholar working in this general field -- or probably any historical field -- is "disinterested", given that, as humans, we all have preconceptions, emotions, ethics and that these all play a role in our scholarship. What role they play depends on the individual, of course, and his or her motives in approaching historical topics, selecting vantage points and so forth. I respectfully add that I don't for a moment consider Professor Evans himself to be a disinterested scholar. He has established himself as an anti-revisionist champion and has appeared as the principal expert witness for the defence before the High Court in London in the Irving/Lipstadt trial. His current report reveals no "disinterest". It is strident and his accusations are sharp and forcefully thrust.
His report, I respectfully submit, is so over-the-top as a critique of an MA thesis written by an inexperienced student straight out of a three-year bachelor degree that any further detailed, point-by-point response is unnecessary. I would like, though, to conclude with a few final observations:
Professor Evans's report sometimes unfairly places me in a "damned if I do and damned if I don't" situation. To give just one example, on page 16 he writes: "Like Hayward before him, [Arthur] Butz pointed out numerous errors of fact in the work of other Holocaust deniers in order to establish his own credentials as a supposedly unbiased scholar." This is downright unfair. Professor Evans condemns me for pointing out many errors in the writings of revisionists, but, instead of adding that this is a positive aspect of my work, he turns it back on me by alleging that I only did this to prove I'm an unbiased scholar. So I couldn't have won either way. If I hadn't mentioned flaws in revisionist theses I would have been accused of whitewashing; but pointing out the flaws gets me accused of deliberately trying to disguise my vantage point. And I must add that I was not trying to establish "credentials as a supposedly unbiased scholar". I was not a scholar and I had no credentials to establish; I was merely a young student trying to do my best.